Posts Tagged ‘firefighters’

Capitalizing on Inmate Firefighters

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Image_washingtonpostThere’s no excuse for inmate firefighters becoming pawns of prison reform.

Inmate firefighters: it’s an odd term, isn’t it? “Firefighter” is a badge of honor, while “inmate” is a brand. Yet these particular convicted criminals are routinely sent on 16-mile marches to square off with raging wildfires for 24 hours at a time, carrying the mark of offenders while performing duties as honorable as they come. For about $2 an hour.

These men (and women) are typically housed in a more congenial, campus-like setting. They eat better than their counterparts who are still behind prison walls, and they’re addressed more cordially by both frontline custody personnel and the civilian training staffers who oversee their participation in California’s esteemed Conservation Camp program.

Most of these folks were convicted of non-violent crimes. But violent offenders have also swung picks and wielded shovels for the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection (CalFire) for decades, and a proposal to expand their participation was recently submitted by California corrections officials. Good thing it was withdrawn almost as soon as it was made public, as the plan could have been a disaster.

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No Happy New Year for Hollywood Arsonist

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Harry “The Hollywood Arsonist” Burkhart was apprehended, but not before giving me a personal view of the lives affected by his über-tantrum.

Monday, January 2, 2012

At 2:30 a.m. on Monday, having been jolted from sleep by sirens aplenty, I saw for myself the fear, loss, and abrupt gratitude on the faces of an apartment building full of people watching their cars and property burn.

Living in Los Angeles, you get to know the difference between a burning hillside and 3000 lbs. of plastic car, so when I looked out our kitchen window and saw a huge column of thick tire smoke mushroom-clouding over the house, I knew two things: that the response by police and fire had been nearly instantaneous (bravo!) and that this unhinged piece of shit had made his way into our neighborhood.  (more…)